Blogs Field Guide

Open Field website is up.

Check out the new website for Open Field, our experimental, summer-long project that invites the public to help transform our big, green backyard into a cultural commons. The site serves as a hub where you can learn more about specific projects happening this summer, read tweets and view images of what others are doing on the […]

One of many suggested uses of Open Field.


Check out the new website for Open Field, our experimental, summer-long project that invites the public to help transform our big, green backyard into a cultural commons.
The site serves as a hub where you can learn more about specific projects happening this summer, read tweets and view images of what others are doing on the field, and add your own activities to the shared calendar. One of the major components of Open Field is the animation of the outdoor space by all of us. We’ve organized some of our own programs on Thursday nights and Saturdays, and we hope you fill up the rest of the hours this summer with your own creative, engaged actions.  

Visit to learn more about:

Invite your friends and join us in imagining new possibilities for the creative future we hold in common.

Susan Howe and David Grubbs are here.

Susan Howe   Dear fans of poetry, music, sound art, sound-based poetry, poetics, interactive media, sonic architecture, UbuWeb, Kenneth Goldsmith, John Cage, Laotian free-reed mouth organs and Emily Dickinson, I’m writing to ensure your awareness that the distinquished poet Susan Howe and reknown experimental musician David Grubbs will grace the Walker stage with their collaborative […]

Emily Dickinson

John Cage

Laotian free reed mouth organ

Susan Howe

 

David Grubbs

Dear fans of poetry, music, sound art, sound-based poetry, poetics, interactive media, sonic architecture, UbuWeb, Kenneth Goldsmith, John Cage, Laotian free-reed mouth organs and Emily Dickinson,

I’m writing to ensure your awareness that the distinquished poet Susan Howe and reknown experimental musician David Grubbs will grace the Walker stage with their collaborative efforts on Thursday. We’re lucky to have them here–busy, creative types that they are, and to have them appear together.

Perhaps you are a fan of these artists individually. Maybe your record collection includes albums by Gastr Del Sol, Squirrel Bait, Bastro, Red Krayola, or Wingdale Community Singers, in addition to the eleven solo records David Grubbs has produced.

On your bookshelf, maybe you have ear-marked copies of  the The Midnight (2003), My Emily Dickenson (1985), or Souls of the Labadie Tract (2003)  by the venerable Susan Howe or one of many anthologies that collect her poems with other esteemed writers of the contemporary word.

Or perhaps you have been following the trajectory of Howe and Grubbs’ unique language-sound collaboration. Hailing from different disciplines and generations, these remarkable makers have found a unique expression of sound and word that Artforum once described as “neither traditional recitation nor music-with-words…in Howe’s imagination, the past becomes a very current stake, [and] Grubbs’ sonic architecture is a striking accompaniment to the text.” (-Bennet Simpson)

No matter what kind of fan you are, including fans-to-be, here are some sneak peaks/enticements to whet your palette:

-Howe and Grubbs speaking on their collaboration at a seminar at Birkbeck College, University of London.

-An interivew with Howe in which she discusses her very early work as a painter, touching on many of the artists in the Walker’s collection.

-A brief abstract to a talk by Grubbs in which he explains, “I am a recording. I do not age.”

-And a real sneak preview of what you’ll hear on Thursday courtsey of WIRE magazine.

Thanks to Rain Taxi Review of Books for these links and for making it happen!

Open Field construction has begun!

The heavy machinery has arrived. Holes have been dug and filled. Electrical wires laid underground. Granite pavers await their new role in the landscape. Forward march towards Open Field!

The heavy machinery has arrived.

Holes have been dug and filled.

Electrical wires laid underground.

Granite pavers await their new role in the landscape.

Forward march towards Open Field!

Play: What’s to be learned from kids? Part 2

Part of the Designing Play program series, developmental psychologist Edith Ackermann visits the Walker this Thursday to address the topic: Playful Inventions and Explorations: What’s to be learned from kids? (Thursday, April 22nd, 7 pm, Cinema, Free). Ackermann has studied under Jean Piaget, the Swiss psychologist renowned for his studies on child development and has […]

Edith Ackermann

Part of the Designing Play program series, developmental psychologist Edith Ackermann visits the Walker this Thursday to address the topic: Playful Inventions and Explorations: What’s to be learned from kids? (Thursday, April 22nd, 7 pm, Cinema, Free). Ackermann has studied under Jean Piaget, the Swiss psychologist renowned for his studies on child development and has devoted her research to exploring the relationship between play, learning, design, and technology at MIT’s Media Lab, the LEGO Learning Institute, and most recently at the Exploratorium Museum of Science, Art and Human Perception in San Francisco, California. Below is the second part of an interview with Ackermann, click here for part 1.

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What happens when you design with, rather than for kids?

When you design with, rather than for kids there’s a better chance to come up with a solution that fits the children, provided the designers don’t surrender their expertise to come up with surprising solutions, and the children are given the elbow-room and time to let designers know what they really care about (beyond the contrived context of usability studies). Easier said than done! When it comes to innovating for others, don’t guess what they want or do what they say: co-create what they—and you—will love once it is there!

Playscapes Activity at February 2010 Free First Saturday "Let's Play!" Photo by Gene Pittman

What’s your earliest play memory? Why do you think we remember these experiences?

I always loved to play on the beach with my sister. We spent hours building castles and entire cities, using buckets to moisten and shape the sand. We collected stones, sticks, and shells for decoration. It was also fun to dig holes in the sand till they were deep enough for the water to appear at the bottom, and then to widen the walls to form puddles big enough for us to sit in – and our dolls to swim in. Not to mention the joy of covering ourselves up in the sand, letting only our heads stick out, and then running into the water to rinse off! Looks like the beach is a perfect playground for old and young to have fun together….

Why is play important, and what can adults learn from kids’ play?

Play, like imagination itself, requires an appreciation of things in their unreality, a desire to move outside the comfort zone. Through pretense and fantasy play, children detach messages, experiences, and objects from their context of origin, creating a new frame that allows for greater freedom, interactivity, and creative possibilities. As they tweak the constraints of a situation [respecting and transgressing rules], they feel free to move, engage with new contexts and open up their experience to unexpected possibilities.

People, young and old, need fun, humor, poetry, pretense, and make-believe. They seek to cross boundaries, widen their horizon, and feel ‘transported’. They love to know what’s NOT THERE and take a walk on the wild side.

Do you think there’s a deficit of play in the lives of children or adults? If so, what’s your suggested antidote?

We seem to witness both an overkill of entertainment—and its pedagogical servant: edutainment—and a lack of open-ended and constructive play—and its pedagogical equivalent—genuine “hard fun”: the ability to move or operate freely in a bounded space. The metaphor of the “leap” is often used to capture the sense of exuberance and freedom that characterize children’s play, as well as its boundary-crossing nature. Problem is:  We can’t just leap without a place to land, and there would be no levity without gravity.  It is in this deep sense that play is not merely an escape from reality but the freedom to participate in, transform and be transformed by the world.

As John Holt put it  “Children use fantasy not to get out of, but to get into, the real world”. It is their way of understanding it and coming to grips with their experience, turning it over and owning it. To play is to become a part of a reality in constant transformative engagement with itself. Play does not disappear with adulthood, nor is it a luxury reserved to poets and artists alone.

Father/son team designing a model on Google SketchUp. Photo by Ashley Duffalo

What are your thoughts on technology’s effect on children living in the digital age?

Question is: what do “we” mean by technologies. In Allan Kay’s words: grown-ups tend to call “technology” any tool that was invented after “they” are born. Not so for children! Born into a world filled with human-made artifacts (from spoons to buzzers, from electric appliances to remote-controls, from tree-houses to interactive toys), Children have no preconceived ideas of what’s high-tech or low-tech, animate or inanimate, physical or digital. Instead, they build their own categories as they gravitate toward and come to experience useful and fun things to play with. Children, in other words, re-purpose intended uses and appropriate the tools and toys at their avail to support them in own their relentless desire to play and learn. Obviously staring at a computer screen day in day out won’t get the kids moving, nor, for that matter, will sitting in a library, in a car,  or in a classroom for hours in a row.

What’s your perspective on the relationship between kids and their senses these days? Is the profusion of screens (TV, computer, mobile phones, etc) making them afraid to get their hands dirty?

The profusion of screens seems to have the paradoxical effect that today’s children are more than ever obsessed with getting their hands in the dirt! Unlike their parents or grand-parents (the TV watchers), many so-called “digital natives” (the young cyber-geeks) are, in fact, reclaiming their mobility (cell phones, iPods) and their territory (digitally-augmented physical places, locative and ubiquitous computing). They form a new culture of makers, hobbyists, bricoleurs, pro-ams, fabricators and tinkerers –who care about things because they know how to fix, mend, personalize, and recycle things. They are also a culture of participation – people who share their creations; and who borrow, remix, address and swap their creations. They build on each other’s contributions all the time…

It has become commonplace to think of young people as “geeks” who spend their lives playing on line and browsing the web. While many still do, today’s tinkerers also design, create, and invent: they move between worlds (digital, physical, virtual), they mess with materials, and they care for their environment. While worried parents fear for their senses, the children ironically show us the way.

Art To Go: Sarah Nassif’s Pop Botanicals

April’s Free First Saturday art-making activity featured local artist Sarah Nassif who is known for her beautiful botanical motifs. Below, Sarah shares her inspiration for the project and steps for how to create your own Pop Botanicals at home. DOMESTIC TEXTILES IN THE 60’S Designers like Maija Isola and Vera Neumann helped domestic textiles keep up […]

April’s Free First Saturday art-making activity featured local artist Sarah Nassif who is known for her beautiful botanical motifs. Below, Sarah shares her inspiration for the project and steps for how to create your own Pop Botanicals at home.

DOMESTIC TEXTILES IN THE 60’S

Designers like Maija Isola and Vera Neumann helped domestic textiles keep up with the sweeping changes in art, fashion and architecture that took place in the 1960’s. Boxy, modern houses demanded textile color and motif that filled and fit with their open interiors. Expressive geometric repeats and oversized motifs in saturated color came into vogue in fashion, housewares and home décor. Textiles were an inexpensive way to deliver this rush of new style in the form of wall hangings, tablecloths, even bedding.

MY INSPIRATION

My earliest childhood memories include the huge Marimekko wall hangings, Isola’s Villikaali (1967) and Strawberry Mountains (1969), my mother favored as a cost-effective way to decorate the two houses she and my dad built in the 60’s and 70’s. I loved setting the table with her Vera table cloths which were used daily.And I still share her conviction that lively prints make anything a party.

WHERE TO FIND 60’S TEXTILES

Check out a wide array of Marimekko fabrics locally at FinnStyle.  Vera’s work has recently been resurrected at Anthropologie and Macy’s, but I like to visit vintage stores and thrifts to find her designs on scarves, dishes and home textiles.

MAKE YOUR OWN PRINTED FABRIC

Textiles are a fun way to redecorate on a budget. It is easy to print fabric featuring a motif of your own design at home. You can use your handmade fabric to make a wall hanging, pillow covers, bags, a tablecloth, etc.

WHAT YOU NEED

-Fabric for your project. Stick to 100% natural fibers like cotton or linen for best results. Choose a smooth, flat weave. Cotton broadcloth is easy to work with.

-Water-based textile inks. Speedball makes the most readily available line. Be sure to choose their fabric inks, not their acrylics. Available at local art supply shop Penco on Washington Avenue.

-A foam paint brushor a sponge, rubber brayer, a plastic lid to hold ink, and a flat surface such as a scrap of Plexiglas.

HOW TO PRINT

-Design to print: cut out foam shapes and glue them on cardboard to make a printing block. Or collect leaves that are leathery and flexible for direct leaf printing.

-For block prints, roll your ink on a scrap of glass or plexi with the brayer until it is smooth and even. Roll the ink onto your printing block. Press your inked image onto flattened fabric.

-For plant prints, use the lid to mix your ink, thinning with water if needed. Use the foam brush or sponge to daub ink all over the underside of a leaf—the veins make a more interesting print. Position the leaf ink side down on the fabric. Place a paper towel over the top and use the brayer to imprint the ink into the fabric. Carefully peel off the leaf when done. You can reuse a sturdy leaf many times.

IDEAS AND TRICK

-Inspiration: use your digital camera to snap photos of patterns in nature and around the city. You can translate these into simple shapes that you can cut out for your block print. Or use actual plant material for printing.

-Try repeating your motif to achieve different effects. Print them staggered or in a grid repeat, or scatter them at random.

-Try overprinting different colors to see how they layer and blend.

-Combine different motifs to create a mural design.


READING

Flickr pools for Vera and marimekko:

Marimekko: Fabrics, Fashion, Architecture Ed. Marianne Aav

Twentieth Century Pattern Design Lesley Jackson

Maija Isola—Life, Art, Marimekko Eds. Marianne Aav, Harri Kivilinna, Eeva Viljanen

Vera: the art and life of an icon Susan Seid

Textile Designs Elffers Meller

Printing by Hand: A Modern Guide to Printing with Handmade Stamps, Stencils, and Silk Screens Lena Corwin

How to Do a “How-to” Project

I love instructions. I seldom follow them but I like the idea of being systematically walked through a set of tasks and problems in anticipation of a successful outcome. My fascination with old manuals and field guides, found poems, demonstrations at the State Fair, a lot of conceptual art and ReadyMade magazine is somehow associated […]

I love instructions. I seldom follow them but I like the idea of being systematically walked through a set of tasks and problems in anticipation of a successful outcome. My fascination with old manuals and field guides, found poems, demonstrations at the State Fair, a lot of conceptual art and ReadyMade magazine is somehow associated in my mind with the endless hours I spent reading How and Why Wonder Books and earning badges as a Brownie Scout.

I also confess an addiction to the sometimes arcane and mundane knowledge that is shared daily through wikiHow and Instructables.  “How-to” seems like a promising template for what might happen in our open field. So here is how I might propose a “how-to” summer.

  1. Create an Open Field “how-to” instruction manual with you over the summer: Like . . . how to have fun in the grass; how to slow down; how to read a poem; how to fly a kite; how to have a peripatetic playdate.
  2. Share our ideas online and on-site.
  3. Gather some of our collective work into a little book at the end of the summer.

Designing Play continues at Target Free Thursday Nights

The folks at Rosenlof/Lucas, a landscape design studio in Minneapolis, have been a delight to work with on the Designing Play series. Not only did they come up with a really cool project for re-imagining the outdoor landscape surrounding the Walker, but then they (namely, Joe Mollen) produced fun videos documenting the process. Here’s footage […]

The folks at Rosenlof/Lucas, a landscape design studio in Minneapolis, have been a delight to work with on the Designing Play series. Not only did they come up with a really cool project for re-imagining the outdoor landscape surrounding the Walker, but then they (namely, Joe Mollen) produced fun videos documenting the process. Here’s footage of the workshop they recently hosted at Target Free Thursday Night:

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/10589405[/vimeo]

In April there’s more ‘Designing Play’ fun, including another Target Free Thursday Night art lab activity on April 15th led by graphic designer Kindra Murphy and painter Tim Tozer called Type Face where you can make a typographic self-portrait using old-school transfer letters (welcome back, Letraset). They’re terribly clever and cute:

Self-Portraits by Annie Wang (left) and Katie Lombardo (right)

And if you’re still not a believer in the power of play, come listen to an expert on the topic. Edith Ackermann,  a developmental psychologist who has studied under Jean Piaget and worked with the LEGO Learning Institute will be giving a free talk on Thursday, April 22nd called Playful Inventions and Explorations: What’s to be learned from kids?

Pirate Press Zine Workshop

This month Teen Programs is hosting a zine workshop taught by graphic designer Alex DeArmond. We started off the class by meeting librarian Rosemary Furtak in Walker Library and checked out zines and artist books by Raymond Pettibon, Ed Ruscha, Sara Varon and many others. [tylr-slidr userID=”36154778@N00″ groupID=””]http://www.flickr.com/photos/wactac/sets/72157623672605311/show/[/tylr-slidr] After the library, we played around with […]

This month Teen Programs is hosting a zine workshop taught by graphic designer Alex DeArmond. We started off the class by meeting librarian Rosemary Furtak in Walker Library and checked out zines and artist books by Raymond Pettibon, Ed Ruscha, Sara Varon and many others.

[tylr-slidr userID=”36154778@N00″ groupID=””]http://www.flickr.com/photos/wactac/sets/72157623672605311/show/[/tylr-slidr]

After the library, we played around with the equipment that we will be using. Keeping true to the nature of the zine, Alex has decided to take a very low tech approach to production – relying on a handful of typewriters, xerox machines, font books, and letraset sheets. Knowing that most of the students are coming from the world of computer aided graphic design, Alex decided to set some guidelines for the workshop. Below is his “Made-By-Hand No Google Manifesto.”

Today we’ll be diving in to the “making” portion of the class by creating a zine in the span of 2 hours.  Follow our progress on the class blog and check out what we come up with on Thursday, April 29th at 6 pm in the Art Lab.